RALEIGH — Southern Pines-based First Bank was honored as the 2018 Community Bank of the Year at this year’s North Carolina Rural Assembly, held in Raleigh on Nov. 15 and 16. Hosted annually by the N.C. Rural Center, the Rural Assembly is the state’s premier event focused on the big issues facing North Carolina’s rural communities.
The award recognizes First Bank’s successful participation in the Rural Center’s Loan Participation Program, a program that reduces loan risk by partnering with private lenders to fund small business startup and expansion throughout the state. The Community Bank of the Year award is given to a partner financial institution that is a leader in providing loan capital and delivering excellent customer service to small businesses in North Carolina.
“We are truly honored to be chosen as Community Bank of the Year,” said Michael Mayer, First Bank president and CEO. “More than ever, the success of small businesses is crucial to the health of local and statewide economies. Working with the Rural Center allows us to further support those towns and communities and to help our clients achieve their dreams.”
First Bank was recognized during the Rural Center’s annual two-day convening, one of the state’s most highly anticipated events. Bank representatives accepted the award in front of a crowd of more than 400 attendees.
“First Bank understands the vital role of the community bank in supporting our state’s economic well-being,” said Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. “Institutions like First Bank are often the first source of support for getting small businesses off the ground, and the trusted partner to help them grow. We are grateful to work with partners like First Bank to help North Carolina’s small business community.”
As a leading participant in the Rural Center’s Loan Participation Program, First Bank has participated in 18 small business loans, supporting more than 340 jobs throughout North Carolina. Highlighted at the event was First Bank client and loan program participant Kimball Markham, owner of Markham Metals, Inc., which operates the Asheboro Recycling Center.
“With an approval from the N.C. Rural Center Loan Participation Program combined with help from Dawn Morton at First Bank, Asheboro Recycling Center is moving forward with new projects, equipment purchases, and adding additional labor,” said Markham. “I thank both First Bank and the N.C. Rural Center for working together on the right financial solutions that met our needs.”